Two measures survive last minute legal challenges

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October 8, 2010


By Bailey Ludlam

Florida and Montana: Two measures were on the chopping block this week but all survived. Judges in Florida and Montana courts ruled that all challenged measures will appear on the upcoming November ballots. Specifically, one measure in Florida and one in Montana were challenged. Opponents requested that the courts remove them from ballots. In Florida, the appeal was filed too late to remove the measure from the ballot but the ruling could have prevented cast votes from being counted.

The Florida Supreme Court ruled that the challenged Class Size, Amendment 8 will appear on the November 2, 2010 upcoming election ballot. The high court's October 7 ruling upheld a Leon County Circuit Court ruling in early September. The lawsuit, filed by the Florida Education Association, argued that the proposed measure was misleading and an under-handed attempt to reduce state funding for education.

According to the October 7 ruling, however, "We conclude that the ballot title and summary accurately represent the chief purpose of the amendment. It further provides fair notice of what the amendment contains and does not mislead the voters as to the amendment‘s true effect. Accordingly, we hold that the ballot language is not defective and that Amendment 8 complies with the requirements of law. We affirm the trial court‘s judgment that Amendment 8 shall remain on the ballot for the November 2010 general election."[1] The Florida Supreme Court has already rejected three previously certified legislatively-referred constitutional amendments.

In Montana, the initiative that calls for implementing a cap on yearly interest rates of payday and title loans at 36 percent was upheld and will appear on the November ballot. Opponents argued that a change in the language following a Montana Supreme Court ruling should have voided petitions signed by state voters because they saw different versions of the initiative and thus should remove the measure from the ballot. Additionally, during the two-day trial, opponents accused the campaign in support of the measure of lying about the payday and title-loan industry and having illegal contests among signature collectors.

District Judge C.B. McNeil of Polson ruled on October 7 that there was no evidence that the law had been broken in collecting signatures, and that the measure would remain on the ballot. There was no immediate word about an appeal.[2]

Although most state voters guides have been completed and sent to registered voters, lawsuits to remove measures from the ballot remain pending in some states. Like Florida, any pending court rulings may not necessarily remove measures from the ballot but instead prevent cast votes from being counted. Below is a brief list of pending post-certification lawsuits.

Pending post-certification lawsuits:

Measures certified for the ballot, but then removed

All 2010 lawsuits can be viewed here.

See also

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